The Single Parent: Kids' thoughts on dating and the big gender divide
"I hope you are not signing up for that!" my boy said sternly, and not unlike the way my father might have done if he had caught me looking at such a thing as a teenager.
But my son is nine and not my father, and I should have told him to mind his own business and go and play on the Wii or something.
But I didn't. Instead I got flustered and embarrassed and blushed crimson and assured him that no, of COURSE I was not signing up for it.
"Good," he replied, somewhat menacingly.
We have a bit of an issue you see. Much like in the way my father may have made such rules for me 25 years ago, my son has also laid down the law regarding boyfriends.
Basically, they are not allowed. I am allowed men who are 'friends' but, he has told me, I cannot have a relationship.
My jokey pointing out of men who could be suitable suitors is always met with an ice-cold glare and a firm 'no', and, often – and this is admittedly a good thing – an hour or so of impeccable behaviour and helpfulness – proving that we do not need anyone else in our life. Well, in his life, at any rate.
I think this is a very common little boy reaction post-separation. A friend of mine with two daughters has the totally opposite behaviour from her girls – they LOVE the idea of mummy dating and falling in love and a big fairytale wedding, and of course, starring roles in the form of flower girls and bridesmaids for them.
They are obsessed with rom coms and Disney films involving princesses in enormous gowns marrying sword-carrying princes and they want the same for their mummy – and they think nothing of pointing out single dads at their school, or likely looking men in the park. Much to my friend's horror and embarrassment.
My separated pals with boys, on the other hand...
One tells me that while her two young teenage sons have totally accepted – and even encouraged - their father's various new lady-friends, they refuse to acknowledge any notion of their mum dating, adopting a fingers in ears 'la la la we don't want to know' approach and even discussing in her earshot how they would SABOTAGE any attempts to bring a man into their home.
Another friend with a primary-school aged boy told me that when she tried to have the excruciating 'mummy might like to meet a new friend' conversation, her lad just laughed hysterically and said 'Don't be so SILLY mummy!' and, when eventually composed, concluded 'Why would you want to? You've got ME.'
Which is exactly how I think MY son feels, too.
So is this a 'thing' with boys and girls? Are girls desperate to marry-off their single mums, while boys just cannot entertain the idea of another 'man' about the house? What are your experiences?